Various Artists

20th Century Blues [Catfish]

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This four-disc box set is a veritable treasure chest of early prewar blues with a cut-off point somewhere in the early 50s. The first disc features seminal tracks from the dawn of the music by Bessie Smith ("Weeping Willow Blues"), Blind Blake ("West Coast Blues #2"), Barbecue Bob ("Barbecue Blues"), Blind Lemon Jefferson ("One Dime Blues," Tommy Johnson ("Cool Drink of Water Blues"), and Ma Rainey ("See See Rider Blues"). Disc two features sides by Tampa Red, Son House, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, and Charley Patton. The third disc features classics by Bo Carter, Robert Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Black Ace, while the final volume finally showcases a few postwar performances from Louis Jordan, Muddy Waters, Pee Wee Crayton, John Lee Hooker (the original "Boogie Chillen"), and B.B. King. Each of the four discs in the set pack a generous 25 tracks apiece and the transfers are reasonably decent, taking into consideration the rarity of many of the materials at hand.

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